Wisconsin gas discount ban challenged

June 27, 2007 at 10:35 AM
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MADISON, Wis., June 27 (UPI) -- A libertarian law firm is challenging a Depression-era Wisconsin law that bars gas stations from offering discounts.

The Institute for Justice, based in Arlington, Va., is fighting the law, which was designed to protect small gas station owners from unfair competition, in Dane County Circuit Court on behalf of Merrill, Wis., gas station owner Raj Bhandari, who ran afoul of the regulations by offering fuel discounts to senior citizens and supporters of a youth sports group, the Capital Times (Madison, Wis.) reported Wednesday.

"As consumers nationwide suffer under record gas prices, the state of Wisconsin is barring filling stations there from offering lower gas prices to consumers," the Institute for Justice said. The firm says its mission is to defend economic liberty and the rights of entrepreneurs.

The firm said in a statement that the suit aims to "restore common sense to gas pricing in the state and constitutionally enshrined limits on government power."

"It's ridiculous in these days of skyrocketing gas prices that Raj is being threatened with thousands of dollars in fines because the government says his gas prices weren't high enough," institute attorney Robert McNamara said in the Capital Times report. "Protecting consumers from gasoline that is too inexpensive is like protecting them from pillows that are too soft."

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